January 13th.

Genesis 24 / Psalm 30 / Matthew 15

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O LORD, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.

It's nothing new for us to feel the closeness of the word teaching us, then feel far away. This is the testimony of our brother who was being taught by God just as we are being taught. He was chosen by God and raised up as a copy of the coming Son who would save him by his perfect obedience to the secret covenant the Father made with him, whereas David could not be and remain perfectly clean. He could not deny the powerful lust of craving that welled up within him, nor the instinctual fear that followed which made him betray the loyalty of one of his faithful servants and think he could lie to God, all for the sake of covering his own behind.

The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.'

The animal is all about the fear, hiding and chaos which is disruptive in the Father's house. The things that define a human before God are what lives in his heart that make him what he is intended to be and remain. There is no process of becoming good to the God who intends the humans to be a certain way, which is why they are that way. There can be efforts to try to change the fundamental behavior of envy, pettiness, lying, harboring and hating in the effort to emotionally and physically survive, but those things are driven by something deeper and stronger than can be properly reckoned with, by the powers available to the humans to be able to change themselves. They are a certain, ugly way that they are rarely able to even think about, except when it's identifying it in another and not their own selves.

The fundamental way that the humans naturally are is the sinful nature that is identified in the words by so many writers. Being an evil and wicked person is not something the "bad people" do, as though one can choose to be good and then adhere to that condition as though it were true. Being evil is the natural state of all humans because they are born under a condition that is bent on being a certain way, not because they constantly choose to be that way but because they're driven by a nature that makes them compelled to choose to be that way so they can't help it. They were bound to the animal via the wild animal nature that makes and keeps them separated from and afraid of God, which is the source of their nature that makes them cursed by the inability to love according to the Father because all they can do is listen to that nature which makes them want to survive in as many ways as is possible.

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.

The peace that the sons seek comes in a totally different way than the things they've secured for themselves all their lives before the calling comes to them. It cannot be gained by their effort so they can hold on to it, to own it and keep it for themselves. They are at the mercy of another process that requires them to let go of their need to get, hold and control so it won't go away. That is where trust, faith and belief have their definition for the sons. It isn't trust when we see and understand the gift, then not needing to trust because we have it already, because it goes away. The trust has to be continually renewed in us, which means it has the character of being alive, not stagnant like an idol we can hang on to. By being alive we mean that it becomes our life instead of it being just another thing we do while we actually live out the life we love. We grow to love the life that the Father planted in us like we love our own life that we so tenderly and efficiently tend after and nurture, according to that nature of self-love and preservation that lives in our heart naturally and instinctively.

The animal is chaos. It constantly dredges up its needs and cravings that have to continually be satisfied. It is always afraid of many things so varied that it can't even be sure what they are. It is ashamed that it's afraid so it hides behind things which make it appear to others, and even itself, that it isn't or doesn't need to be afraid. If it can get more control, then it may temporarily feel safe and secure. However, those fixes are always only temporary, and it's an endless cycle of doing the same thing throughout its life until it expires. Even before it's gone there are thousands more to take its place, engaging themselves in the same unending survival rituals that don't need to be taken into themselves and learned because they're just there.

Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.

The humans who are content with holding on to the man-made idols, who don't want the truth about God but are satisfied with what they've made are satisfied because it serves them and they're happy with the way things are because they can control it. They tell their gods how they want things to be and they serve them because those gods are static, unreal, molded by the hands and minds of men; so of course they are what they want them to be, and they always do what makes them feel comfortable. If enough of them are gathered together they make the idol's power come to life by its magical powers of the consensus they create amongst each other by their belief about the god's power being reinforced in each other's desire for it to be true.

What lives in the human heart is powerful and alive, and should be since it was created by the living God, for His purposes of keeping them away from Him. It is what the Father desires to continue to live in the hearts of the humans, and that's just the way it's going to be. The sons, however, are constrained by the opposite requirement, and must come away from that which is native to the humans because it is the Father's express desire that they come near Him and not be separated from Him like all the others. That which lives in their hearts must be slowly removed and replaced with the life of the Father and Son, the only power capable of even enlightening them to the presence of that other nature, let alone take it out of them.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

 

The rituals of the Law, feasts, & celebrations were put in place for the people so that on a regular basis, every week and other certain times of every year they would in theory always be pointed back to their God. They were to remind them who they were—God's people, holy and set apart for His purpose and good, ultimately the copy of the true family of God—as well who their God was and the many good things He had already done for them. If their purpose were realized then He would continue to bless them, and what He had already done would be built upon with His ongoing goodness. However, if they did not continue in the purposes and intentions of the many things given specially to them from God, then even what they had would be taken from them. That was a part of the covenant He had with them, to be His people, and He their God. But they were still only a copy of the better thing, that which the Son made possible—giving the Father what He intends to have, a family of loyal sons who have all chosen Him instead of the animal.

The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

The sons of God from that time period saw past the mundaneness and redundancies of the rituals to the end that they saw the heart of God and what He wanted from His people along with what He wanted to give them. The sons weren't actually bound by the rituals of the Law because they knew that it wasn't rituals performed that God wanted from them. They loved and practiced the Law because it showed them the truer reality of who God was—not a being who delighted in rote ritualizations but One who delighted in the loyalty and faithfulness of His own sons toward Him alone and away from everything else that tried to ply them away from Him.

Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.

Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.

Hence David, being hungry, knew that the external ritual, the commandment about the show bread, wasn't important compared to the condition of his heart before God. He knew that he was a true Israelite and son of Abraham because his heart was circumcised, and in a way none of the outward things applied to him because he was right with God according to the real law. That is not to say that he went around breaking the law or violating the commandments for the sake of the people.

The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

"The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh. Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the desert in distant places—all these nations are uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart."

David, like Jesus, was under an even more intensely strict covenant, that being honest with God in the secret places of his heart, where only God could see. Even though some things did not bind him, what he did in secret was the more offensive thing to do. The privilege of being a son bears with it a thousand times more responsibility then just obeying external rituals. It requires everything, not just most things. It is the whole life and every little corner of darkness that we think we can hide in. It isn't freedom, but total and complete servitude to being honest to the One who is setting us free from the oppressor so we can serve Him freely and without the chaos and constraints of the fear-driven animal that only wants to hide from God.

I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.

Jesus deliberately violates the sabbath (according to the leaders) on many occasions, to prove the point about what it means to understand the way of God rather than obeying the humans and the rituals and laws they made sacred, then replaced God with them because they could control the work of their own hands easily, while God cannot ever be controlled. He may allow the humans to think they can control Him, but they are the same as those who carved their gods out of wood and metal and gave them power by the consensus they received from the others.

This is what the LORD says:

"Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky,
though the nations are terrified by them.

For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.

they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.

Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good."

These leaders of Israel had taken the ways of God, the good things He had given to Israel for His good purpose (to lead them to Him), and instead turned them into things they could raise their territorial leg up onto, then own and control for their own purposes and gain—to enhance themselves which is what the animal always seeks to do. By what they turned the law into, they retained political and social (actual) control, and by them they grew rich at the expense of the poor, to whom God actually wanted them to be merciful—with a broken and contrite heart that appreciated His awesome power.

This is what the LORD says:

"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:

that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD.

Instead the fruit they produced was the outward hypocrisy of the animal nature, acting godly and yet doing the opposite of His will, under the radar of the many who were fooled by their external pomp or position. To most their corruption became the norm, but standing before them was one who like David knew that he wasn't bound by their hypocritical judgments, and had the authority to tell them the actual truth as God told him.

If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.

Jesus was saying, "If you knew the secret purpose and heart of God, and what the sabbath was actually intended for, you would honor and receive me, but instead you want to kill me " The implication is obviously that they didn't know, and the evidence is in their wrongful judgment of innocent men who were under the authority and care of the only One who was innocent of the hypocrisies of the animal. Why were they innocent? because they were clean, not defiled as accused by the leaders (who were actually the defiled ones). Why were they clean? because of the judgment of the Father in giving them to the Lord, and the implied intention that they were chosen to become sons of God. The word he spoke to them confirmed that, which came from the Father, and made them clean.

We who know that the life of the living God and His Christ are living in us are also judged by the intention of God to make us sons, and therefore clean. We always hear the word spoken to us; his life in us is the living word that lives to teach us now about the true things of God because we are His children, just as he told the disciples because they also were His children. The reason he speaks to us is not because we're privileged and free, but so that we can become bound to the Son like a faithful bride is bound to her loyal husband. We can hear his voice so that we can become transformed from what is unclean and not fit for the husband into a proper bride whom can be counted on to be faithful and loyal.

Like them we have also been accused of violating the sanctity of human marriage, given by God but only as a copy of what we truly have with the Lord. So we are ironically charged and accused with breaking an earthly commandment which doesn't apply to us, because we are clean and under the care and authority of the Lord of marriage. It doesn't apply to us because we have already, in the most genuine way, in the eyes of the living God, been betrothed to the Son of God, the Lord of marriage, which trumps any condition or judgment that men may want to put on us according to their human rules that they hold up as sacred while they violate God's laws right and left, all day long.

"And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, `Honor your father and mother' and `Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, `Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' he is not to `honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

" 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' "

Now we come all the way back full circle to our disfellowship tribunals, when we were cut off from the "good people" for violating the commandment of God to honor earthly marriage. We know, however, that just as the Lord purposely violated the sabbath commandment for the very reason to show what was true, he set up our situation to look as it did for the same reason. The rituals and things that the christadelphians attach so much sacredness to are only copies of the real thing. All of the earthly things are given for that purpose, not for the sake of creating sets of earthly regulations that men must live by in order to be right with God, but merely for demonstrating, as copies, what the real life of God is about and for.

True marriage, knowing that we are the bride of God's Son, is being faithful to him even though it costs us. It is being faithful to him even when it runs contrary to what the truth bearers tell us to do. It is listening to his voice instead of a man, or a group of men telling us to do one thing when we know in our heart he has told us to do the opposite. To be faithful to our true husband no matter what shame, grief and heartache comes with that faithfulness. It is to fear God, our Father who created life and death; more than man, mere creatures soon destined to lose their earthly power and authority.

Our good Father desires to have a bride for His good Son that is faithful and pure in their heart regarding everything about him, especially their devotion to him. We are that bride who is loyal to the Father and the Son instead of the animal that is living inside us. Ever since we grew up and became mature in the way of the animal who is the enemy of the Father and Son, we were controlled by it. We loved and served it wholeheartedly, without any knowledge or awareness of the true Son, nor any desire or obligation for that matter to be faithful to him. We were free from the obligation to love and serve him; we loved and served our selves instead.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

"Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

We are now the children on whom the light shines to expose the old way, the way we used to live, that which we were in complete servitude to the tune of not even being aware of our condition. But by the light we are aware of what we used to be and who we used to serve. By it also we are aware that we are the bride who has been bought with a price.

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.

So we move, like Rebekah, out of the family of our old master—out of Mesopotamia (Babylon)—and we travel to the new land that has been promised to the Son and his bride, because of his name, which is actually the name of God. Only because of the grace of being chosen, we inherit the good name of God along with the new identity that comes with it, and we lose the old one.

And they said, "Let us call the young woman and ask for her answer." And they called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" And she said, "I will."

 

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the spirit.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the spirit have their minds set on what the spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the spirit, if the spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit, who lives in you.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

 

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